Scott have become quite a big deal in trail running over the last couple of years with their ever-growing range of shoes receiving a lot of positive feedback from runners and reviewers. For the most part, their outsole designs are primarily intended for dry-soft ground which might limit their appeal to UK runners who often need something a bit more aggressive. However, the recently released Kinabalu Supertrac features much larger lugs to improve grip when things get really muddy and boggy so I thought I’d give them a try.
The Kinabalu Supertrac’s feature a no-nonsense rugged upper with a sturdy rand around the toes and tightly woven mesh. The relatively thick midsole and tall lugs result in quite a ‘big’ shoe (although by no means maximal) but I’d describe the looks as smart and relatively understated. The quality of construction and materials seem very good, creating the impression of a shoe that is going to last a long time.
The outsole reminds me of a tractor tyre and there are few shoes out there with a more aggressive pattern. This brings me onto one of the really unique things about the Supatrac’s which is the combination of big lugs AND a generously cushioned midsole. The majority of shoes with equivalently aggressive lug patterns tend to feature relatively little midsole and heel to toe drop because cushioning is generally less important on soft ground and lower shoes provide better stability. However, not everyone can cope with a drop of 6mm or less and given the popularity of heavily cushioned shoes among ultrarunners at the moment, I can see the Kinabalu Supertrac carving out quite a niche for itself as it has few direct competitors.
For most people, I think these are going to be a long run shoe or a day-to-day training shoe so I’ll be talking about them from that perspective as I suspect the proportions and weight will not appeal to those who are looking to use them for fell racing and short, steep or highly technical runs.
Moving onto a couple more details, the lace bungee is quite a nice little featured but the shoes could perhaps benefit from a stitched-in tongue to provide additional security and protection against debris entry as this is becoming an increasingly ‘standard’ feature for shoes of this type.
As I’ve said above, I think the Supatrac’s are going to be a long run shoe for most people and when viewed within that context I think the fit is very good. The toebox is quite roomy, the midsole is relatively snug whilst the interior of the shoe is soft, comfortable and generally a nice place to put your feet for a few hours. Obviously, they aren’t designed to fit like a fell shoe and they will move around a little bit on techy, steep ground but not enough to cause any real problems (assuming I’m right in my assumption of how people are going to user them).
I found that they ran true to size with sufficient width and adjustability to cope with a fairly broad range of foot shapes.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you may have noticed that I usually tend to go for lighter and lower shoes than the Kinabalu Supertrac. Occasionally when testing, I find that I have to allow my personal taste to take a bit of a back seat in an effort to maintain objectivity and judge a product on it’s merits. Clearly, decent reviews are all about honest opinions and but I think it’s important to try and recognise the good and bad qualities of a product, regardless of personal preferences. Anyway, before running in the Supatrac’s, I suspected that this might be one of those (rare) occasions where I need to make these kind of allowances but was then surprised to find that this hasn’t been the case and I’ve really enjoyed running in them.
Grip levels over mud and bog are very good as you might expect but crucially, the rubber compound is wonderfully soft, sticky so it also works well on slippery rocks and roots. Perhaps surprisingly, they also feel pretty good on hardpack services which makes them an example of a shoe that would work well all year round for most conditions in the UK which is quite a rare thing. Obviously the lugs are going to wear down fairly rapidly on hard ground but the performance makes this is a worthwhile trade off in my opinion.
I’m not generally a massive fan of rockered midsole designs but the Kinabalu ‘eRide’ rocker is quite understated and I couldn’t really feel that it was there. Protection and cushioning levels are pretty high and the soft midsole material produces a ride that reminds me of the Altra Lone Peak (albeit slightly firmer). The outsole is quite wide, both at the forefoot and the heel and this makes the shoes surprisingly stable when you consider the stack height. Along with the grip, this means that you can run with a decent amount of confidence over ground that is fairly technical.
The Supatrac’s are the wrong side of 350g in my size 9.5’s which is a bit on the weighty side but they (somehow) seem to do quite a good job of disguising it. The exception to this is when they get saturated as they don’t seem to shed water that efficiently and this obviously leaves them heavier still.
Now and again, I will get asked for a recommendation from a runner who just wants to have one pair of shoes to cope with anything that UK trails have to offer. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable request but there are surprisingly few options out there which genuinely fit the bill, simply due to the fact that we get A LOT of mud in the winter and this requires aggressive lugs which don’t then work well on hard, dry trails. In my opinion, the Kinabalu Supatrac’s come just about as close as anything to fulfilling this brief. Obviously, they are predominantly a wet conditions shoe but they will also do a decent job all year round and when you take that into consideration, the £100-ish price tag seems quite reasonable to me.
The Kinabalu Supatrac’s are capable, dependable and extremely versatile running shoe which go about their business with a minimum of fuss. They are an excellent choice as a durable, long run shoe with lots of grip for those who like a bit more cushioning and drop than typical offerings from Inov-8 et al.
This shoe was provided on loan free of charge for testing. See here for my gear review policy.
The Scott Kinabalu Supertrac is available now from Castleberg Outdoors (who offer international shipping).
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Got any thoughts or questions about the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac? Please leave your comments below!